Archive for November, 2010


Wednesday’s session lasted about six hours. Four bills were discussed. One passed its preliminary reading, and three were defeated. The highlighted bill of the day that would put conditions for female army exemption on grounds of religious recognition was defeated. What passed was a bill that would force real estate brokers to disclose the transaction brokerage fees in the listing prices of both rentals and sales.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor), Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.), Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas), Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) and Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) all answered urgent queries at the start of the session.
  • Nine motions on the hot topics of the day were discussed. Eight of the motions were sent to various Knesset committees by the votes of: 19-0, 10-0, 8-0, 11-0, 10-0, 8-0, 4-0 and 5-0. One of the motions was not voted on and therefore dropped.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Real Estate Brokers Bill

MK Akunis (Likud) explained his amendment would force real estate brokers to disclose the transaction brokerage fees in the listing prices of both rentals and sales of apartments and houses.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 29-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

MK Barakeh (Hadash) explained his amendment would present a tax exemption for corporations which employ the handicapped. He expressed that it is wiser to give tax free jobs to the handicapped, as opposed to giving them free government funds for not working. He cited a study that found that out of all western countries only South Korea gives fewer rights than Israel to the handicapped. He called this unacceptable.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill.  He stated that the handicapped in Israel have a higher employment rate than the rest of the population and therefore the government did not see a reason for the bill.

MK Barakeh expressed his disappointment with the government’s decision.

The bill was defeated 16-51.

Amendment to the Police Ordinance Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained that her amendment would require higher education as a condition for the recruitment of detectives to the police. She warned that Israel can’t call itself a modern country if they don’t expect their detectives to have a college degree.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) expressed government opposition to the bill. He explained that most of the criteria that make a good detective come from previous experience and not from what they may have learned in the classroom. He noted that most of the detectives do have degrees anyway, so this is a pointless bill aimed at the talented few who do not have a college education, some of whom are the best detectives in the country.

The bill was defeated 12-45 with one MK abstaining.

Amendment to the Security Service Bill

MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) explained that his amendment would put conditions for female army exemption on grounds of religious recognition. He exposed a quote by Minister Nahari in an ultra-orthodox paper where he said he planned on burying this bill. Minister Nahari heckled back. Hasson told Nahari and the ultra-orthodox that they should be ashamed of themselves. He said it was not fair that his daughters serve and Shas’ daughters do not.

Minister Erdan (Likud) agreed that something needs to be done with secular women pretending to be religious. He stated there is no reason to force religious women into the army. He noted that a government bill on the issue of women pretending to be religious to get out of the army has passed its first reading, and the committee will send it for second and third readings in about a month. He accused Hasson for presenting this bill because of political motivation and not good will. He lectured Hasson to stop attempting to embarrass the government on silly issues.

MK Hasson responded that this was a “real” bill, and it has nothing to do with politics. He explained that there are differences between his bill and the government bill. For instance the government bill would still force conservative and reform female Jews to serve in the army, and his bill would exempt them. He went on to attack the government in general and Shas in particular.

Minister Nahari (Shas) responded to attacks against him by attacking Kadima and MK Hasson.

Deputy Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) responded to attacks against him by asking MK Hasson why he hasn’t been at any of the committee meetings on the government bill. Litzman answered it was because Hasson doesn’t really care about changing anything, he only cares about speaking against the ultra-orthodox. He concluded that religious women will never serve in the army and there is nothing Hasson or anyone else will be able to do about it.

The bill was defeated 28-51 with one MK abstaining.

MK Hasson offered his apologies if he hurt Minister Nahari’s and Deputy Minister Litzman’s feelings. He stated that his problem was with their opinions not with them as people. He mentioned that if Minister Nahari was misquoted that he will take action against the papers that misquoted him. He added that he wants to create committees to deal with these important issues, such as helping the agriculture community.

Speaker Rivlin responded that there is a committee called the Foreign Workers Committee that helps the agriculture community. He stated that the chairman of the committee, MK Katzeleh (N.U.), was in the room, and Hasson could speak with him about it.

Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) said that there is a committee for everything and there is no reason to create more committees. He noted that Katzeleh does a good job and that Hasson should speak with him.

Tuesday’s session lasted about two hours. Two bills were discussed. A bill that would prohibit advertisements that offer prostitution services passed its preliminary reading. Another anti-importing bill, this time one that would prohibit importing Israeli flags, passed its first reading. MK Mofaz was named the new Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman. Attendance was light following the long seven and a half hour session that ended after 11:30 PM the night before.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • House Committee Chairman MK Levin (Likud) informed the plenum that MK Mofaz (Kadima) will replace suspended MK Hanegbi (Kadima) as the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman. He expressed regret to the other candidate for the position, MK Eldad (N.U.), and told him that it must remain a Kadima position. He also announced that MK Cabel (Labor) will replace retired MK Pines-Paz (Labor) in the Justice Committee. Speaker Rivlin was surprised that it took a year to name a replacement. Levin concluded by revealing the House Committee decisions on the proper committee destination for the bills and motions that were in question.
  • 13 MKs discussed various topics in the “One Minute Speech” segment of the day. The hottest topic was International “Struggle against Violence against Women Day”.
  • A motion on International “Struggle against Violence against Women Day” was discussed by eight speakers.

 

Bills Summary

Two Amendments to the Penal Code Bill

MK Zuaretz (Kadima) explained that her amendment would prohibit advertisements that offer prostitution services. She blamed society for causing violence against women. She criticized Tel Aviv and Eilat as cities that have an overflow of prostitution service advertisements and said that the time has come to outlaw these disgusting things. She noted that local papers have started placing these ads in their papers. She revealed that this bill will place a fine on any publication that advertises these “services” and will send those who bought the ad to jail for a sentence ranging between six months to seven years, depending on the type of violation. She stated that prostitution makes men look at women as objects and pieces of meat.

MK Khenin (Hadash) stated that his identical amendment will end the suffering of many women. He claimed that the bill does not harm freedom of expression because in most cases the freedom of one person is traded for the freedom of another.

Deputy Minister of Women Affairs Gamliel (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

Both amendments passed their preliminary readings by identical 16-0 votes. The House Committee will decide which committee will prepare the bill for its first reading.

Amendment to the Flag, Emblem and National Anthem Bill

MK Yacimovich (Labor) explained that the amendment would prohibit the acquisition and importing of Israeli flags from other countries. She said it saddened her that many Chinese children die producing 95% of the flags with which we celebrate our Independence Day.  She criticized Bank Hapoalim for their annual “Zionist” Israeli flag drive on Independence Day during which they choose Chinese-made flags because they are cheaper.  She responded that it was the opposite of Zionist.

MK Zeev (Shas) said that importing goods from China or other countries is a dangerous thing and it is better to do everything in house. He said that he supported this bill because most of the public will choose the cheaper option even if that means choosing the Chinese option over the Israeli one.

The bill passed its first reading 6-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Monday’s session lasted seven and a half hours, and the entire discussion was spent on one bill. The Jerusalem and Golan National Referendum passed its third reading 65-33 at 11:30 PM. Most of the important details of the law were not covered by any of the news outlets, such as the fact that the bill itself was passed in 1999 and that the amendment to implement it was co-sponsored by two Kadima MKs in the previous Knesset, where it passed its preliminary and first readings.  There is also a clause that would skip the referendum if 80 MKs approve the measure, and the bill can be repealed at any time with a simple majority of 2 MKs to 1. Read on to find out more about the most talked about bill of the winter.

Amendment to the Law and Administration Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained that his amendment would allow the application of the jurisdiction and administration laws to be changed to enable a national referendum vote on the issue of territorial withdrawal that would be implemented by the central elections committee. He mentioned it was an honor to have revived this bill from the previously elected Knesset (MK’s Itzchaky and Avraham Balila from Kadima were the co-sponsors), and pass it through the committee which he chaired. He stated that this bill would prohibit the State of Israel from withdrawing or transferring territory that has been annexed unless a majority of a national referendum vote approves it after 61 MKs approve the measure. He explained that in 1999 a similar bill had passed but couldn’t be implemented because of judicial loopholes. He reported that most western countries have national referendums for certain situations. He added the current bill had passed a first reading with 65 MKs supporting the bill under Prime Minister Olmert’s administration. Levin explained that he added four objections to the bill in order to please the government and have its approval, the most important of which was an objection that included a clause that would allow the Knesset to skip the referendum if 80 MKs supported doing so. He concluded by stating that the referendum would bring peace between peoples, as opposed to a peace just between leaders.

Speaker Rivlin asked what the difference was between 61 MKs, who could approve a withdrawal or transfer leading to a national referendum vote, and 80 MKs, who could approve such a withdrawal and forgo the vote.

MK Levin responded that he disagrees with the clause of the 80 MKs, but without that clause the government would not support the bill.

MK Oron (Meretz) objected to the bill. He charged that the bill was a Knesset bypass bill. He blasted the bill as one that will make it very hard to achieve peace and would cause the entire peace process to die. He alleged that this bill was being brought to vote because the coalition believes Netanyahu will try to give away Jerusalem and the Golan. He concluded by calling the bill undemocratic.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Edelstein (Likud) explained that this bill will prevent a follow-up to the Oslo accords in which a Mitsubishi or a Volvo swings the deciding vote. He expressed full government support for the bill and Levin’s four objections.

MK Molla (Kadima) called a national referendum a real danger. He wondered if the timing of the bill has something to do with Netanyahu supporting this bill at the expense of demanding a backing for his settlement building freeze. He recalled that Ben-Gurion didn’t ask for a national referendum when he drew the borders in 1948. He noted that if the issue of bringing the Ethiopian Jews into Israel went to a referendum he would still be in Ethiopia. He praised former Prime Minister Rabin’s Oslo peace agreement and peace agreement with Jordan, both of which were signed without a referendum. He warned that the world will look at Israel if this bill passes and call us an apartheid state. He informed the plenum that if this bill passes he will propose a referendum bill that would separate church from state. He concluded by warning that the message we are sending with this bill is that Israel is against peace.

MK Zahalka (Balad) charged that this bill will end the peace process. He explained that no Palestinian will negotiate a deal that does not include Jerusalem. He called on Israel to follow international law and return to the borders of June 4th 1967. He blasted Israel for saying there is no need for a referendum to annex Jerusalem or the Golan, but there is a need for one to withdraw.

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) stated that we don’t need a referendum to decide whether we should withdraw from any part of Israel because the answer is that any withdrawal is forbidden. He explained that because of that point the National Union at first was going to oppose the bill, but they have agreed to assist their friend MK Levin and vote as a block for the bill. Katzeleh concluded by saying that they don’t want to bring down the Likud government, but they do want to bring down Netanyahu and have the Likud replace him with someone more worthy, such as MK Ya’alon.

MK Levin reminded MK Oron that the bill already passed in 1999, and he was just expanding on and setting up the execution of that bill. He added that Kadima proposed this bill and passed it in its preliminary and first readings. He hoped that Kadima would vote for their own bill in its second and third readings.

MK Rotem (Y.B.) said that there is a national referendum every four years. Sometimes the right takes power and takes steps that the public did not vote for. He stated the public is against freezing settlement building and is against withdrawing from the Golan and Jerusalem. Therefore his party is voting for the referendum in order to keep the right in check.

MK El-Sana (R.T.) suggested that the referendum voting be limited to just the Golan Druze and the Arab Jerusalemites.

MK Adatto (Kadima) objected to referendums on fateful issues. She also objected to giving the people a veto on any Knesset vote. She charged that there will be lower voting numbers in a referendum than there is traditionally for a Knesset election.

MK Ghilon (Meretz) suggested that we go back to biblical times and that he and MK Katzeleh fight it out, throw punches and winner takes all. He noted that both of them are crippled and walk with a cane, and this would be both entertaining and cheaper than a referendum. Deputy Speaker Whbee (Kadima) asked Ghilon not to say such things in front of children. Ghilon responded that the children would be a lot better educated if they witness a fight between Katzeleh and himself.

MK Barakeh (Hadash) asked how a prime minister can negotiate if he can’t guarantee a deal without a referendum. He said that only a single country recognizes Jerusalem and the Golan as part of Israel.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said that although he is against a referendum he will vote for the bill. He blasted the MKs who are supporting Syrian President Assad by opposing the bill on the grounds that Israel should be allowed flexibility to withdraw from the Golan and thanked them for the motivation they gave him to support this bill.

MK Ganaim (R.T.) labeled the bill one for cowards. He accused Netanyahu of supporting this bill to ease the pressure he is receiving from President Obama. He called the bill undemocratic. He questioned why Israel didn’t need a referendum for the Sinai but they need one for the Golan.

MK Swaid (Hadash) questioned the context and the timing of the bill as well as the intentions of the MKs who are pushing it. He answered that the bill was an obstacle to peace. He blasted the Likud for supporting this bill in a corrupt bargain that would provide support for the upcoming settlement freeze.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) stated that this bill is undemocratic. He warned that the bill allows the people to substitute the Knesset. He noted that if the Knesset objects to a territorial withdrawal it will not go to a referendum. He called this bill a short-term solution to a long-term problem. He added that the bill could be defeated in the future by a simple majority of 2 votes to 1, so it is irrelevant. He concluded that Israel must withdraw to the 1967 borders and that Netanyahu himself will regret supporting this bill.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Edelstein stated that there was no agreement between Netanyahu and the Likud MKs concerning his support for this bill in return for their support for the freeze.

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) criticized the bill and called a referendum a dangerous precedent. He warned the ultra-orthodox that there will be referendums forcing them into the army and allowing public transportation on Shabbat. He warned that any person who would want to raise money to campaign during such a referendum is allowed tom and they don’t have to be an Israeli citizen. He blasted the Labor MKs who are planning on voting for this bill and told them they should be ashamed of themselves. He concluded by saying that citizens do not understand the situation as well as MKs and are therefore not educated enough to vote on these issues.

MK Zahalka said that this bill sends a clear message that the Likud does not want peace. He accused Netanyahu of ordering Shas to pressure him in order to relieve American pressure.

MK Eldad (N.U.) said that this bill comes from the public’s frustration of leaders who say something before the election and do something else after. He revealed that a good source told him that Livni called Mofaz her poodle. MK Shai (Kadima) criticized Eldad for revealing that story.

MK Khenin (Hadash) called today a dangerous, black, historic day. He stated that when Israel goes to war it does not ask for a referendum but now for peace they will. He wondered if the Ghajar village will be included in this bill and if we will have to exercise this very expensive bill to withdraw from the northern part of the village as the government decided last week.

MK Tibi (R.T.) called this Knesset the most extreme in Israel’s history. He blasted Labor for betraying their voters. He stated that Israel is headed in the wrong direction and this bill is another step in that direction.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) charged that MK Levin is passing this bill in order to get a better placing in the Likud primaries. He called the bill racist and said the nation has higher priorities for a national referendum than the proposed bill.

MK Zeev (Shas) called the bill an important one that is essential for Israel’s future. He noted that Israel annexing Jerusalem and the Golan did not derail peace talks and asked why a referendum would. He called Syria an enemy and added that this would prevent a one-sided disengagement. He recalled the wars in Gaza and Lebanon that followed such actions. He stated that sometimes democracy needs to protect itself. He called the Golan the heart and eyes of Israel’s strategic security. He predicted that if Israel leaves Judea and Samaria that Hamas will take control in the following months like they did in Gaza.

MK Shai (Kadima) said that the Knesset is neutering itself today, limiting its abilities and stature by giving the mandate back to the people. He joked that for the small things there is no reason to have a referendum, but for the big things we need to ask permission. He warned that a referendum can be manipulated to the point that its answer will be impossible for a government to implement and will endanger Israel as a stable legitimate democracy. He also questioned the need to take a sensitive subject like Syria and force it into the headlines during a time of quiet. He added that the Golan will not always be in Israel’s hands. He mocked the coalition, calling them a “bored Knesset”. He stated that the first thing Kadima will do when they overthrow the Likud government is repeal this bill.

MK Sheetrit said that every step the Likud takes that is not towards the peace process is distancing Israel from the peace process. He expressed his belief that if Kadima was in power there would have already been a peace deal with the Palestinians. He called for a land swap with the Palestinians that would trade land for the settlement blocks. He praised the Saudi initiative, which is signed by 25 Arab countries, and called on Israel to accept it. He revealed that he asked Prime Ministers Sharon, Olmert and Netanyahu to accept the initiative. He applauded President Obama’s Cairo speech calling for a regional peace. He called for a constitution that determines the final borders of the State of Israel and labeled the law irrelevant. He told Netanyahu to tell the truth and reveal that he does not want peace. He demanded there be a referendum if the Knesset does not approve a withdrawal, not if it approves one. He lashed out at the public and said they don’t have the tools or the information to make a decision. He concluded by commenting that the Knesset is actually working today for once, claiming that Tuesdays are irrelevant, Mondays are a waste of time and Wednesdays are predictable.

MK Zeev blasted Syria and Hamas, calling them killers. He noted how Hamas and Fatah fought side by side a few years ago and now are killing each other and how Syria is Iran’s best friend. He cynically asked if Israel should give up on Lod, Ramla and Acre now that they have an Arab majority. He moved on to the settlement freeze and said that Likud leads the coalition and Shas is a loyal partner who follows even if they don’t agree on everything. He revealed that an American embassy official told him that three months is just the beginning, and the freeze will be extended. He hoped that bills such as this would stop future freezes.

MK Dicter (Kadima) noted that for 62 years Israel lived without a referendum. He stated that all of Israel’s most fateful events would have failed a referendum and would have never happened. He predicted this law would bring apartheid when the Arab swing vote supports territorial withdrawal. He decided that a financial compensation for the people of Ghajar who are willing to move their houses is the best way to deal with that problem. He called the referendum bill a threat and said it was outsourcing Israel’s most important vote. He concluded by saying this bill has the potential to destroy Israel as we know it.

MK Ariel (N.U.) thanked MKs Levin and Elkin for helping advance the law, as well as residents of Jerusalem and the Golan. He expressed that this bill will bring unity to the nation. He blasted Netanyahu for lying about the length of the freeze, for lying about the freeze not including Jerusalem and for lying that America has made us promises that are not written anywhere.

MK Plesner (Kadima) warned the minorities of Israel that their days are numbered if this bill passes. He said that he especially doesn’t understand the ultra-orthodox MKs who support the bill. He warned that a country without a constitution and which makes decisions by referendums is not a democratic one. He warned that people will fight in the street over the referendum results. He charged that Netanyahu does not want this bill but is too afraid to oppose it and remains paralyzed. He warned that Las Vegas casinos will run a facebook campaign and decide the result of the referendum. He thought that there were responsible adults in the government that would stop this populist bill. He slammed the bill that he claimed would harm Israel’s legitimacy and gives our enemies ammunition. He accused Netanyahu of lying to Israel and telling them that there is a peace process when there isn’t. He noted that Labor’s leader Barak is against this bill. He attacked the rest of Labor for not saying anything and called them a bunch of old rags and prisoners who get released but decide they’d rather stay in jail. Deputy Speaker Tibi asked Plesner if he really thinks Labor are old rags. Plesner responded yes and added that Labor will disappear.

MK Oron asked how a bill that is supposed to unite the nation can be argued for six and a half hours if there is such a consensus. He warned that until the right realizes that he disagrees with the occupation as much as the right disagrees with withdrawing from the settlements there will be no real dialogue among Israelis. He asked that perhaps the Knesset needs 80 MKs to maintain the occupation of eastern Jerusalem and the Golan. He stated that this bill is not against him and Meretz, but it is against Netanyahu, who the right doesn’t believe. He informed that the bill says that if the national elections are within three months of the referendum, then both votes will take place on the same election day. He criticized the coalition, who was gathering 61 MKs for this bill, in order to prevent any appeal to the Supreme Court.

MK Levin thanked the MKs for debating the bill and said he appreciated those who opposed the bill and their opinion as well. Levin asked those opposing the bill if a decision determined by one MK’s vote that would destroying tens of thousands of homes was democratic. He asked if firing two ministers in order to pass the disengagement was democratic. He responded that before people’s lives are ruined for a Mitsubishi, it is a worthy thing to ask the public, just to make sure. He went on to slam those who have sabotaged the referendum bill since it was passed in 1999.

The Votes

Objections from the opposition MKs were defeated by the votes of: 30-61, 33-62, 33-62, 31-62 and 32-65. Most of the MKs removed their objections after it became clear they would be defeated.

MK Levin’s objections to the bill were accepted 83-10-1, 63-30, 63-31 and 63-31.

The bill’s paragraphs were passed in their second readings, including MK Levin’s four amendments and excluding the opposition’s amendments: 62-31, 63-30 and 63-32.

The bill passed its third reading 65-33.

Most of the coalition MKs voted for the bill. Out of the right-wing 61 MK coalition of the Likud-Y.B.-Shas-U.T.J. and J.H., MKs Danon (Likud) and Landver (Y.B.) were the only MKs not present for the vote.  MKs Gafni (U.T.J.) and Maklev (U.T.J.) voted against the bill. The 13 person Labor party was divided as follows: Ministers Simhon and Vilnai voted for the bill, five Labor ministers and deputy ministers did not vote and six Labor MKs voted against the bill. As for the opposition, everyone opposed the bill except the four National Union MKs, who voted for the bill, and half of Kadima. Kadima was split as follows: MKs Schneller and Aflalo supported the bill, 11 MKs purposely did not show up for the vote and 14 MKs voted against the bill. Kadima leader Livni had instructed her party to oppose the bill while MK Mofaz suggested that the Kadima MKs rebel and boycott the vote.

MK Levin thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu for backing the bill. He also thanked Coalition Chairman MK Elkin, Bibi’s assistant Tzvika Hauser, Likud Faction Manager Aliza Barashi, his parliamentary assistants and others. He also thanked former MK Yehuda Harel from the long-defunct Third Way Party for passing the bill in 1999. Ex-MK Harel is a Golan resident and the former personal assistant of assassinated Prime Minister Rabin.

Wednesday’s session lasted about five and a half hours. Two bills were discussed, and both passed their preliminary reading. Attendance was light for a Wednesday, and the session was relatively short. There were a few motions and queries discussed as well.

Non-Bills Summary

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas), Infrastructure Minister Landau (Y.B.) and Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.

Seven motions were discussed on the hot topics of the day, and five of them were sent for further discussion in their relevant committees. They were passed by the votes of: 14-0, 9-0, 6-0, 7-0 and 6-0. Two motions were not voted on.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Supervision of Financial Services Bill

MK Cohen (Shas) explained that his amendment would enable consumers to collect a refund for cancellation of an insurance policy and also not pay a termination penalty. He stated that the law would apply to all types of insurance and that his bill would put an end to the insurance companies pocketing money for doing nothing.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 13-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the Protecting the Public from Sex Offenders Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained that his amendment would add the offense of obscene publications involving minors to the list of sex offences in Israel.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) expressed government support for the bill.

MK Levy-Abekasis (Y.B.) expressed disgust that those arrested for publicizing obscene pictures or videos of minors have been receiving very light sentences because they are not included in the Sex Offenders Bill. She told a story of a man who took pictures of naked minors on a beach, spread them on the internet and only spent a few nights in jail.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 17-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Tuesday’s session lasted two hours and forty five minutes. One bill was discussed, and its first reading was approved. Attendance was lighter than the usual Tuesday.  The Knesset celebrated the Kibbutz movement’s 100th birthday.

 

Non-Bill Summary

  • 14 MKs spoke during the One Minute Speech segment. The main topic was the kibbutz’s 100 year birthday. Minister Peled (Likud) responded to the speeches and expressed his excitement.
  • A motion on the 100 year birthday of the kibbutz was discussed by Speaker Rivlin and 8 MKs.
  • Justice Minister Neeman had a query hour with 6 MKs.
  • Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) did not show up to answer queries and was criticized by Deputy Speaker Shama (Likud).
  • House Chairman MK Levin (Likud) announced the House Committee’s decision on which contested bills will be awarded to which committees. The decision was approved by a 6-1 vote. MK Rotem voted for MK Ayalon by accident, and Deputy Speaker Shama criticized him.

 

Bill Summary

Amendment to the POW Payments Bill

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) explained his amendment would enable payment to spouses of prisoners of war who are recognized as POWs only after their death. He informed that most POWs were only recognized after their death, such as those who were deported to Africa with Yitzhak Shamir during the British mandate. He revealed that when he was 15 years old he watched former Prime Minister Shamir on television and decided to enter politics after meeting him at the age of 16.

MK Zeev (Shas) noted that many POWs lead short lives due to injuries and mental illness. He stated that wives who take care of their husbands after their time as POWs deserve financial compensation.

The bill passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Monday’s session lasted about three hours. Nine bills were discussed and passed. Six of the bills were passed in their third reading and three passed their first reading. Highlights included giving returning citizens the same rights that are given to new immigrants and a bill that will shorten the time needed to receive business licenses.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Speaker Rivlin wished the Muslim citizens a warm holiday.
  • The swearing-in ceremony of new MK Nino Abesadze (Kadima), who will be taking MK Hanegbi’s seat during his indefinite suspension, was led by Speaker Rivlin. In her introduction speech she told the story of her aliya 14 years ago. She said that it was a privilege and a responsibility to be an Israeli and that she served her country through the press and will now serve her country through the Knesset.
  • House Committee Chairman MK Levin (Likud) announced that MK Levy-Abekasis (Y.B.) will replace MK Miller (Y.B.) as one of the nine deputy speakers. The Knesset approved the measure 30-0.
  • Speaker Rivlin marked the 66th anniversary of the murder of paratroopers Hannah Szenes and the six other soldiers of her unit who were shot by a firing squad. Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Noked (Labor) and MK Tirosh (Kadima) also spoke about one of Israel’s first feminist figures.
  • The Vice Chairman of the German Bundestag’s visit to the Knesset enraged MK Ben Ari, who decided to shout out at her, “The Germans are a people with blood on their hands, there will be no forgiveness”. Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) silenced him.
  • One motion titled “Israel’s housing prices reached new heights” was discussed by MK Horowitz (Meretz), MK Khenin (Hadash) and Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas). The motion passed 11-0 and was sent to the finance committee.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Execution Bill

Justice Committee Chairman MK Rotem (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would prohibit the Court Registrars from having an additional government job.

The bill passed its second reading 16-0.

The bill passed its third reading 15-0.

Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Bill

Justice Committee Chairman MK Rotem (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would limit the police district attorneys’ workload and give more cases to the justice district attorneys. Rotem said that today there is an unfair 90%/10% split and this will make the situation more even.

The bill passed its second reading 18-0.

The bill passed its third reading 17-0.

Amendment to the Foreign Workers Bill

Interior Committee Chairman MK Azoulay (Shas) explained that the amendment would extend the authority of inspectors to enter foreign workers’ homes and work places.

MK Khenin objected to the bill and said that it will discourage companies from hiring foreign workers. He asked that his objection be approved, which would force a district judge to approve the new measures.

The parts of the bill with no objections passed their second reading 15-0-1.

MK Khenin’s objection was defeated 3-14.

The bill passed its second reading without the objection 15-0-2.

The bill passed its third reading 16-0-2.

Finance Committee’s decision regarding approving provisions of the customs tariff order and the provisions on the purchase tax exemptions on goods/Amendment to the order tax on gasoline

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) blasted what he called a five billion NIS income tax cut that will benefit the highest tax brackets. He warned this would increase the gap between the rich and poor.

Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained that the tax cut would be closer to ten million NIS. He asked the Knesset to defeat MK Sheetrit’s objections.

The objections to the two committee decisions were defeated 12-46 and 13-27.

Amendment to the Business Licensing Bill

Interior Committee Chairman MK Azoulay explained that the bill was once part of the Arrangements Bill and was a reform for business licenses. He explained that the amendment would speed up the process of obtaining a business license in some cases. He added that city hall will have to inform any person who wants to open a business about all the information needed to receive a license. Also, the amendment would require business licenses to be renewed every 15 years.

MK Khenin objected sending inspectors to monitor businesses that are on the fast licensing track.

MK Bielski (Kadima) thanked MK Azoulay for an incredible bill.

MK Azoulay spoke out against the Arrangements Bill and thanked Speaker Rivlin for speaking out against it and assisting in splitting this amendment from that bill.

The parts of the bill with no objections passed their second reading 23-0.

MK Khenin’s objection was defeated 2-25-1.

The bill passed its second reading without the objection 25-0.

The bill passed its third reading 26-0.

Amendment to the Supervision of Financial Services Bill

Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni explained that the amendment would allow certain people to take money from their kupat gemel (provident fund) for a limited time. He informed that senior citizens will be allowed to take out all of their money from a kupat gemel at one time instead of monthly payments.

MK Katz (Likud) explained that there currently is a 35% tax fine for withdrawing money from the kupat gemel and this amendment will eliminate that fine for many people. He expressed satisfaction as he told the story of how, through his father’s personal experience, he became aware of the tax fine. He blasted a financial consultant who took credit for this bill in the Kalkalist daily. Katz remarked that he didn’t know the man and that the man had sent an email to him after he was already working on the issue.

The bill passed its second reading 11-0.

The bill passed its third reading 12-0.

Amendment to the Patents Bill

Justice Minister Neeman explained that the amendment would modernize registering security related patents and patents from individuals who work within a company. Speaker Rivlin noted that this was another bill that was removed from the Arrangements Bill.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) criticized the courts handling of MK Hanegbi’s case and said that there is no reason why a court case should last for a decade.

The bill passed its first reading 9-1 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Courts Bill

Justice Minister Neeman explained that the amendment would reduce the number of district judges for local court appeals that are under 300,000 NIS from three to just one.

MK Ben Ari explained that he proposed a bill that would call acts against religious people or settlers racism. He blasted Neeman for working against his bill.

MK Zeev (Shas) slammed the justice system, which is backed up three years in most areas. He also said that three judges are needed and the cut to one is not wise.

The bill passed its first reading 9-1 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained that his amendment would assist citizens who are returning from at least a six year recess and present them with the same rights that immigrants receive.

MK Ben Ari slammed Shas for abstaining on the new proposed settlement freeze and for causing Oslo. He screamed at the Shas MKs saying that they want to kick him out of his house and send his children into exile. He called on Shas to show some spine and to stop selling out.

MK Zeev called Ben Ari a bluffer. MK Ben Ari started heckling MK Zeev, and MK Rotem joined him. Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) silenced the room. Zeev informed the plenum that the building freeze is being enforced anyway and Israel might as well get something for it. Ben Ari stated that his house is in Shas’s hands. Deputy Vaknin stopped the discussion and sent Zeev to his seat.

The bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Deputy Vaknin noticed he had a minyan and invited Neeman, Rotem, Zeev, Cohen, Hershkowitz, Elkin, Ben Ari, Orlev, Orbach and the others to join him to daven maariv after the last bill.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

Finance Committee Chairman MK Akunis (Likud) explained that the amendment would require all public buildings and structures to have a handicap parking section.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0.

The bill passed its third reading 15-0.

MK Orlev (J.H.) thanked the Knesset for approving his bill.

Wednesday’s session lasted about eight hours. Seven bills were discussed. Three bills were advanced, one was defeated and three were turned into motions in order to avoid defeat. Kadima MK Hanegbi’s suspension from the Knesset caused the changing of seats among the Kadima MKs. This resulted with three Kadima MKs- Edery, Bar-On and Sheetrit- voting from the wrong places at different points in the session.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced the changes in a few committees. MK Orlev (J.H.) will replace MK Orbach (J.H.) in the Funds Committee, and MK Orbach will replace MK Orlev in the House Committee. MK Orbach will replace MK Orlev in the State Comptroller Committee. MK Simantov (Y.B.) will replace MK Miller (Y.B.) in the Funds Committee.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin announced the splitting of the Arrangements Bill and explained which committee would discuss which part to prepare it for its second reading. The Knesset approved the split 66-2.
  • Justice Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) asked the Knesset to split a bill his committee was discussing into two. The Knesset approved the split 57-0.
  • Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud), Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas), Justice Minister Neeman and Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) answered urgent queries.
  • The motion on a unilateral Palestinian state from earlier in the week was continued. The Knesset defeated the proposals to accept a Palestinian state (in whatever form) by MKs Zahalka (Balad), Ghilon (Meretz), Khenin (Hadash), Sarsur (R.T.) and Plesner (Kadima).  They were defeated by the following votes: 7-55-1, 20-42, 10-56, 7-52-2 and 15-46. MK Ben Ari’s idea of annexing Judea and Samaria to Israel was defeated 3-62. MK Orlev’s proposal to leave the Palestinian state issue to negations between the proper parties was passed 43-21.
  • Seven other motions were discussed on hot topics of the day. Six were passed and sent to different committees by the votes of: 15-0, 8-0, 11-1, 7-0, 5-0 and 7-0. One motion was not brought up for a vote.
  • Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud), Justice Minister Neeman and Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) answered several queries at the end of the session.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Municipal and Government Taxes Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained that his amendment would exempt field schools and youth hostels from city taxes.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 33-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee. The vote was 34-0, but Speaker Rivlin cancelled one of the votes. The cancelled vote was from MK Edery (Kadima) who had voted as MK Bielski (Kadima) instead of voting from his own seat.

Amendment to the Expansion of Ethiopian Representation in the Civil Service Bill

MK Pinyan (Likud) explained that his amendment would grant affirmative action to Ethiopians in the public sector.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government support for the bill.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) objected to the bill. He explained that his party had supported affirmative action for women, immigrants, minorities and disabled people. He explained that because the government is against affirmative action for the ultra-orthodox, he is against affirmative action for Ethiopians. He called on the government to encourage and promote processes that would help the ultra-orthodox enter the work force.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 55-0 and was sent to the Immigrant and Absorption Committee. It was 56-0, but Speaker Rivlin cancelled one of the votes. The cancelled vote was from MK Bar-On (Kadima) who had voted as MK Boim (Kadima) instead of voting from his own seat.

Amendment to the Pharmacists Ordinance Bill

MK Tiviaev (Kadima) explained that his amendment would add instructions in Russian to all pharmaceuticals sold in Israel. He thanked his Russian-speaking friends in Likud and Yisrael Beitenu.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 60-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the Population Registry Bill

MK El-Sana (R.T.) explained that his amendment would help Bedouins by sending their mail to their private address instead of sending the mail to the Bedouin tribes’ main addresses.

Environmental Minister Erdan (Likud) explained that the Bedouin leaders prefer to not have a permanent address and prefer to distribute their tribe’s mail themselves. Erdan suggested that the bill be turned into a motion so they can discuss the matter in the committee.

MK El-Sana agreed.

The motion was passed 31-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Agbaria (Hadash) explained that his amendment would no longer force medical facilities and hospitals from reporting individuals’ diseases to the government in all cases and would specify which cases need to be reported. He said that the current situation creates tension in the doctor-patient relationship.

Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) said that he personally agrees with MK Agbaria, but the government opposes the bill. He asked Agbaria to change the bill into a motion.

MK Agbaria agreed.

The motion was passed 30-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Zahalka (Balad) explained that his amendment would give traffic law tax exemptions to the disabled and citizens older than 65. He stated that car license and registration fees are too high for these populations to pay.

Transportation Minister Katz explained that the government is against the bill because they have already lowered the taxes of these populations in these areas. He asked MK Zahalka to change the bill into a motion.

MK Zahalka agreed.

The motion was passed 30-0 and was sent to the Health Committee. It was 31-0, but Speaker Rivlin cancelled one of the votes. The cancelled vote was from MK Sheetrit who had voted as another Kadima MK instead of voting from his own seat.

Amendment to the Jewish Religious Services Bill

MK Molla (Kadima) explained that his amendment would add a Kes member of the Ethiopian faith to every religious council in the country. He blasted the entire religious establishment and said that all the other religious Jews have it wrong and that the Kes have it right. He called everyone who opposed this law a racist and said that the Ethiopian leaders are the spiritual leaders of the Jewish people.

Minister Nahari (Shas) slammed MK Molla and his bill. He stated that Shas and the coalition support Ethiopian rights and that their record speaks for itself. He noted MK Pinyan’s Ethiopian affirmative action bill that was co-sponsored by many coalition members and revealed that MK Molla was not on the bill. Nahari asked if they should also add American rabbis to the religious council and turn it into an international mix. He asked if it would be better to divide the religious council into different sectors and not try to unify the religious public. Nahari called the bill a sham. He informed Molla that if Kes members were members of the religious council they would be forced to forfeit their state salaries by law. Nahari asked the Knesset to defeat the bill.

MK Molla responded that Kes members barely make any money anyway and that Shas has not done enough for the Ethiopian public in the last decade.

The bill was defeated 25-47.

Tuesday’s session was a short hour and forty minutes.  The only bill that was discussed passed in its first reading. The bill will reform quarterly doctor clinic visits. Attendance was perhaps the lightest of the year; few times were there more than ten MKs in the plenum. International Premature Baby Day had two motions and six speakers overall.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • 15 MKs participated in the “One Minute Speech” segment that opened the session. Most of the speakers talked about Netanyahu’s Washington visit. Minister Begin (Likud) responded to the MKs’ speeches.
  • Speaker Rivlin gave a warm speech greeting the Head of Russia’s Federation Council, Sergei Mironub.
  • Two motions were discussed. The first was a motion on International Premature Baby Day. Speaker Rivlin, MK Levy-Abekasis (Y.B.), MK Agbaria (Hadash) and Minister Begin spoke. The motion was passed 9-0 and was sent to the Health Committee for further discussion. The second motion was on abortion.  The two speakers were MK Zeev (Shas) and MK Michaeli (Shas). That motion was passed 7-0 and was sent to the House Committee to find the appropriate committee to continue that discussion.

 

Bill Summary

Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) explained that his amendment would reform the quarterly copayments for health clinic visits. He stated that the new bill would start the three month quarterly count from the date of the first visit, as opposed to the standard today of counting by the calendar year. He hoped this would prevent doctors from taking advantage of patients by spacing out their appointments and would also encourage patients not to wait too long to make their appointments.

The bill passed its first reading 8-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Monday’s session lasted about four hours.  One bill was discussed and passed in its third reading. The bill raises the fine for illegal parking in handicap spots from 500 NIS to 1,000 NIS. Most of the day was spent discussing four motions, particularly the motion on the Palestinians’ desire to declare a unilateral state. Attendance was light.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • There were no ‘no-confidence motions’ because Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Washington.
  • The session started five minutes late because there was no minister in the room to respond to the first motion, and Speaker Rivlin called for a recess. Defense Minister Barak (Labor) was supposed to be the coalition minister to answer the motion, but he is in Washington with Netanyahu.
  • The Knesset discussed some of the top headlines of the week with four motions, which took most of the day. Three of the motions were passed 15-0, 17-0 and 13-0. They were sent to the relevant committees for further discussion. The motion regarding “Palestine” was not voted on.
  • Labor and Welfare Minister Herzog answered queries at the end of the session.

 

Bill Summary

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Akonis (Likud) explained that the amendment raises the fine for parking violations in handicap spots from 500 NIS to 1,000 NIS. He told people who feel the fine is too high not to park in handicap parking if they are not handicapped. He attacked radio personality Gabi Gazit who said on the air that the Akonis would not advance or pass this bill.

MK Matalon (Y.B.) thanked the government for supporting the bill he sponsored. He said that he was saddened that he needed to sponsor a bill to stress the idea that handicap parking is for the handicapped. He questioned where Israel went wrong with its education and morals. Matalon thanked his assistants and Akonis, as well as Gabi Gazit for challenging him.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0 and passed its third reading 15-0.

Wednesday’s session lasted ten and a half hours.  Eleven bills were discussed, and six of them were advanced after passing their preliminary readings.  Two bills were defeated, two were withdrawn to avoid being defeated and another was turned into a motion. MK Regev shocked the Likud by voting and speaking against the government position and was punished severely. Another highlight of the day was the passing of a bill that will force all Israeli flags to be manufactured in Israel.

Non-Bills Summary

  • Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud), Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) and Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) answered urgent queries to open the session.
  • Speaker Rivlin gave a warm speech to greet the Vice President of Honduras.
  • MK Whbee (Kadima) reported on the Knesset delegation to the fifth meeting of the Mediterranean Parliament.
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to a request from 40 MKs to rebut the opposition’s claim that the “world is against Israel – how Netanyahu’s government isolated Israel in the international arena”.
  • Speaker Rivlin eulogized former minister Sarah Doron, who passed away this week.
  • The Knesset approved two continuity clauses by votes of 38-0 and 22-0.
  • Seven motions were discussed based on the hot news topics of the week.  Six of them were sent to committees by the following votes: 18-0, 12-3, 13-0, 7-0, 4-0 and 4-0. The last motion of the day was not voted on.
  • Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas) and Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor) answered queries to close the session.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Securities Bill

MK Katz (Likud) explained that his amendment would remove void the obligations of a public company towards its controlling private owners if they don’t show up to board meetings.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 39-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Flag, Emblem and National Anthem Bill

MK Akonis (Likud) explained that his amendment would require all Israeli flags to be manufactured in Israel. He also slammed the Israeli companies that have been outsourcing flag manufacturing to China. He announced that he had government support for the bill.

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) objected to the amendment and warned that this could be a dangerous first step against the importing and outsourcing companies.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 46-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Elections Bill

MK Pinyan (Likud) explained his amendment would allow radio stations to broadcast election advertisements for the regional council’s elections.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 35-1 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Land Bill

MK Orbach (J.H.) explained that his amendment would force buildings with only one elevator to turn that elevator into a Shabbat elevator.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) explained that the government supports the bill, but only with major changes, such as it only taking effect in buildings where the majority of inhabitants or patrons are religious.

MK Schneller (Kadima) objected to the bill and said that the minority should not decide for the majority.

MK Orbach (J.H.) corrected MK Schneller and said that with the government’s changes, his concerns were addressed.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 45-0 with one MK abstaining, and it was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee should discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Value Added Tax Bill

MK Ghilon (Meretz) explained his amendment would create a tax exemption on beverages, food products, pharmaceuticals and medical treatments. It would also reduce the tax rate on culture, newspapers and books, as well as the sale and installation of items that reduce energy consumption.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill. Cohen stated that the government will not support any change to the VAT and will leave that matter to the Governor of Israeli Banks, Stanley Fisher.

MK Ghilon (Meretz) responded that rich people should pay higher taxes than poor people and that the capitalistic tendencies of the government are morally wrong. He remarked that money should be spent on medications instead of airplanes. Ghilon pointed to Prime Minister Netanyahu and said he would remove all of the items on his list and just keep the medications that are life-saving, and asked him to support the bill. Netanyahu refused.

The watered down version of the bill was defeated 23-48.

Public Housing in the Periphery Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) demanded that the government provide public housing for the elderly, single mothers and olim. She suggested that the Galil and the Negev are great places to build this public housing project. Solodkin charged that only the Yisrael B’Aliyah party (1996-2003) supported public housing as a party line, and she blamed everyone else for the current situation.

Building and Construction Minister Atias (Shas) agreed that no one supported public housing from 2003-2009. He explained that he disagreed with the bill because there are enough apartments in the Negev and Galil. He explained that over 500 apartments are empty in these areas and that in the center of the country there is a lack of buildings. He explained the best way to provide public housing is to advance a bill that will give 5% of all building projects to public housing.

MK Regev (Likud) blasted Atias and charged that he does not want to solve the public housing problem. She came out against the government position and welcomed any sanctions that will be placed on her. She said she was a proud co-sponsor of the bill.

The bill was defeated 29-42.

MK Regev was punished by the coalition and will not be allowed to propose any new bills indefinitely.

Motion/Amendment to the Local Authorities Bill

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained that his amendment would discipline mayors by splitting off some of their powers to other city hall officials. He explained that he simply took the State Comptroller’s words and turned them into a bill, so he was surprised the government opposes the bill. Naffaa suggested turning the bill into a motion.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill but agreed to turn the bill into a motion and discuss the matter further in a committee.

The motion passed 36-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Divorced Parents on Kids Address Bill

MK Sheetrit explained that his amendment would force every school to have the addresses of both parents in their records and to distribute all of the information on the children to both parents evenly, regardless of who holds custody.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 31-1 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee should discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Inheritance Bill

MK Oron (Meretz) explained that his amendment would allow inheritance by adoption, as opposed to the current situation in which adopted children do not receive anything unless it is explicitly written in the will.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch expressed government support for the bill.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) objected to the bill and revealed that the great majority of the religious members of the coalition objected to the bill as well because it is against halacha (Jewish law). This statement launched a screaming match among everyone in the plenum that lasted several minutes. Speaker Rivlin suggested that religious discussions should not take place in the plenum.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 22-3, with one MK abstaining, and it was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Water Bill

MK Gafni explained his amendment would control the water rates and announced that all of the members of the Funds Committee are co-sponsors. He explained that citizens who need more water for their daily lives, such as disabled people, should not be fined for exceeding their water limit. Because he didn’t have government support he agreed to postpone the bill, in order to not see it defeated.

Amendment to the Marriage and Divorce Bill

MK Schneller (Kadima) explained that his amendment would allow “regional registration” for all couples who wish to get married. This would allow couples to get married through any local marriage licensing rabbinate and would not limit them, as they are today, to only the city or cities in which they live. Schneller said that under this bill there will be a central online computer database that rabbis in all cities would be able to access and update. He attacked the ultra-orthodox parties for opposing the bill and revealed that the two official state rabbis of Israel, ashkenazi and sefardi, both support this bill. He mentioned that the government had supported the bill and that it passed the government ministerial committee for legislative affairs. He complained that suddenly the government changed their mind because of MK Gafni. MK Gafni told MK Schneller he would not change his mind and argued with him for ten minutes.

MK Schneller withdrew his bill in order to prevent it from being defeated.

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